Monday, October 3, 2011

Home from China FAQ and a plea for help

I have had zero time for blogging since we've been home. Once we got back, we dealt with health issues for all three kids and I sprained my ankle. I still don't have time to blog, but we are desperate to get this information out. Thank you to all who have been praying for us.

How is your family doing?
We are equally struggling and doing well. We love having three kids and the transition to that has been very smooth. However, each individual child has been struggling with the changes, and that has been exhausting for us. We've been overwhelmed at the immensity of our kids' personal challenges.

How is Brendan adapting?
We are past the honeymoon period. He and Aidan get along great. He doesn't like Iona much yet. Brendan has been attached to Daddy from day 1, and that has not changed. When Pete went back to work, Brendan would not look at me at all by the afternoon. That has gotten better, but even tonight Brendan got very upset at me wanting to put him to bed...he definitely wanted Daddy. We have the biggest power struggles with him at meal times. He is learning that we love him but we are also in charge. I am learning patience.

Has he learned any English words?
Brendan understands a heck of a lot more than he can speak. We've been home just over six weeks, and we've seen more confidence in him in the words he says. He is speaking a little louder, where before he would barely even whisper to us when speaking English. He can say hi, more, please, please may I be excused (with help), Aidan, Iona, Daddy, Momma, apple, cars, book, the ABC song, amen,

Is Aidan feeling better?
For those who didn't hear, Aidan was having chronic diarrhea that started about 2 weeks before we left. It was not bad while we were gone, but then returned just as we came home. We could not keep up with it and he was losing weight. The doctor ran a bunch of tests, and we discovered that he had too much yeast in his gut. He is now dairy-free, sugar-free, and white flour-free. He is taking a strong probiotic each day, and now he can tolerate some of the above foods in small amounts. We will be doing this for the next few months and then see what he can take.

How is Aidan doing with his new brother?
Aidan has adapted really well with all the changes. He shares a room with Brendan and has been willing to share all but one set of his toys (including the ninja turtles!). He loves having Brendan in the bunk beds. He has been a great leader, helping Brendan with some of the day-to-day routine. And he does it happily. We have seen an increase in anger in him, and a few more tears than usual. Just before we traveled we had to stop his occupational therapy for his sensory processing disorder (he is sensory-avoidant) due to insurance changes. We've realized that his anger comes when he is in "fight" mode, and we need to work on helping him self-regulate. We need to find a new therapist (probably out of town) who is covered by our insurance, does specific sensory therapy, and will allow me in the room so I can learn. Until then, we're trying some things with him around the house.

How is Iona doing?
This could be a whole post in itself. Iona had a difficult time with us leaving her to get Brendan, and we didn't realize just how much for a little while after we had been home. We are working to rebuild trust and felt safety with her and disarm her fear. She has been over-the-top defiant, screaming and laughing at inappropriate times. She does seem to enjoy Brendan, and sometimes they play together so beautifully. We've learned to decode Brendan's squeals to know whether he's happy or not, and usually she is involved. We've had to change most of our parenting strategies, and it's been a hard but good exercise to unlearn what isn't working or helpful. I just went to a conference with speaker Karen Purvis, author of The Connected Child. I'm not going to rehash the conference, because I think Karen, Jennifer, and Angela each summed it up in amazing ways, and I just don't have time. It was SO worth it for me to go, and we bought some videos to help us learn and process the material and parenting method. I had already read most of the book before the conference and had started some of the technique the week before, and we were seeing some progress. Then I went away and got some awesome information and encouragement and rest. This last week has been incredibly difficult, and we started school on top of it. We've wondered jokingly at various times if Iona has SPD but is a sensory-seeker, and at the conference I became even more convinced. When we find an OT for Aidan we plan to get her tested as well.

How are you two doing?
We are having fun with our newer, larger family. Nothing major has caught us off-guard. However, we are exhausted at the end of each day and don't know how we are going to get done what we need to in the evenings and wake up and start all over again. Only with Jesus. We are thankful for Purvis' book and the new strategies we are learning. We are also on a waiting list with our home study agency to receive play therapy in our home for our kids for free...we should be able to start in the next couple of months. We are excited to get some new parenting tools from that.

How can we help?
We are thankful to all who have asked this. I have not really known how to respond, because, due to attachment-building, we can't really leave the kids with a sitter and go out. Here are some other ideas:
  • Come over and hang out with one of us here with the kids. Bring your kids if you want (as long as they are healthy!). The other one will get out for some respite time. We will not ask you to parent our kids, but we'd love it if you could hang out with the others when we have to hunt one down. If you educate at home, maybe we could work out some combined school time.
  • Help us clean our house. This is very difficult when we are cooking, teaching, and dealing with orphanage dust.
  • Pete will be on a business trip for 4 days in Oct. I could use support especially on those days!
  • Invite us out to a park. We would rather not go to other people's homes just yet, but a park would be delightful, especially with the weather so nice.
  • If you have another idea, please offer it up!
We would call YOU personally, and we really want to hear how YOU are doing, but life is a bit exhausting at the moment and the mental energy to do that has disappeared.

Please call me (home phone preferred, but you can try my cell) or email me. I am barely on Facebook right now, and since they've made all their changes I don't get email notifications of new messages.

Lifesong Zambia

Brush to Berries from Lifesong for Orphans on Vimeo.

"Simply giving this person money is treating the symptoms rather than the underlying disease and will enable him to continue with his lack of self-discipline... a better solution would be to develop a relationship that says, we are here to walk with you and to help you use your gifts and abilities to avoid being in this situation in the future'" (An excerpt from the book, When Helping Hurts)

Lifesong is serving the people of Zambia... the orphaned, the at-risk, and the poor... by utilizing the land that is, like the people, so full of potential. Lifesong farms-Zambia reaped its first strawberry harvest in June, and local grocers have been purchasing the berries. With additional acres to farm, we are hoping to process some of the berries and begin marketing Lifesong Farms Strawberry Jam.

By harvesting fruit, we are able to serve more orphans by providing the gift of a job at Lifesong's gardens and self worth to an orphan's caregiver. We are also able to provide future employment for our kids as they transition into adult living, develop a system to raise funds to help cover operational costs, and develop expertise that can be replicated in multiple countries where Lifesong serves. Most of all, we are seeking to glorify Jesus as we teach others how He walked.


1st PRIZE: Lifesong is giving away a 1-night hotel stay for the LIVE ORPHAN SUNDAY event in Kansas City!!! Let me just tell you, this event will be FABULOUS!!!

2nd PRIZE: Lifesong is giving away FREE Gobena Coffee for 1 year - 2 lbs per month shipped straight to your home.

HOW do you enter? Well, I'm glad you asked! There are several ways to enter. PLEASE LEAVE A SEPARATE COMMENT ON THIS LIFESONG POSTING FOR EACH ENTRY, including your email address so Lifesong is able to contact you!!!

1. Share how the Lord is working in and through your adoption/orphan care ministry (1 entry)

2. Re-post this Zambia blog posting on YOUR blog to share what the Lord has been doing at Lifesong Zambia (1 entry)

3. Tell about an Orphan Sunday event you had or attended in the past (1 entry)

4. Tell your plans for THIS YEAR's Orphan Sunday on Nov. 6th (1 entry)

5. Re-post this on your facebook wall (1 entry)

6. Re-post this on your twitter page (1 entry)

7. Post on YOUR blogs, facebook, or twitter and tell Lifesong that I sent you (1 entry)

8. Tell what you think about the 'Brush to Berries' video - what moved you, what stood out to you, what are you excited about? (1 entry)

9. Become a fan of Lifesong on facebook here (1 entry)

10. Send an email to info AT lifesongfororphans DOT org asking to receive our monthly updates (1 entry)

PLEASE leave a separate comment on Lifesong's post for EACH entry, including your email address so they are able to contact you!

***Giveaway starts immediately and ends at midnight on Monday, October 3rd.